March 19, 2020 / 8:09 PM / 15 days ago

Soccer-Sion dismiss nine players after Swiss season halted over coronavirus

BERN, March 19 (Reuters) - Swiss club FC Sion have dismissed nine players, including captain Xavier Kouassi and former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder Alex Song, after the country’s league was halted indefinitely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The SDA news agency and RSI television network both reported the dismissals which also included Johan Djourou, Pajtim Kasami, Ermir Lenjani, Seydou Doumbia, Mickael Facchinetti, Christian Zock and Birama Ndoye.

They said the players had refused to sign an agreement for a wage cut while the stoppage continues. The club did not confirm the dismissals and could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Swiss league was stopped on March 1 after the government banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

Sion are eighth in the 10-team Swiss Super League and only four points clear of the relegation place. There are 13 rounds of matches to play if the championship re-starts.

Sion president Christian Constantin has employed around 40 coaches since he took over the club in 2003, including himself for a short stint. Others have included current Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso.

In 2011, Sion were kicked out of the Europa League for fielding an ineligible player and took their case to a local civil court, infringing FIFA statutes.

Two years ago, the club was banned from European football for one season over a transfer debt with another club and in the same year Constantin was banned for 14 months, later reduced to nine, for slapping a television pundit. (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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